travel

Sunset at Reynisfjara / Dyrhólaey

The Landscapes of Iceland - Winter Edition (II)

Iceland won’t lives up to your dreams you have before the trip. It is often not the frozen winterish wonderly landscape you might expect – it is the all changing landscape that constantly redresses itself. Every time it changes, it does so with a huge cocktail of snow and ice and storm and sun and clouds and pink and blue and yellow and black and white.

Iceland in Winter: Different to your expectations

Although it’s hard to pinpoint what to expect exactly from a volcano in the far Northern Hemisphere, I was surprised of the different moods it finally presented. Snowstorms, ice and frozen waterfalls on Snæfellsnes. A smiling Kirkjufell hiding under the snow. Massive greyness accompanied by vastly illuminated cloudscapes during sunset in Southern Iceland (Þórsmörk, Reynisfjara and Dyrhólaey). Hardly any ice at Jökulsárlón and the glaciers and Diamond Beach due to massive rain and higher temperatures. Silent fields of pure emptiness. And in between: overwhelming beauty. Colors and impressions you will never forget.
Iceland does not live to the sterotype of a northern country in winter. It’s different, it’s surprising and it is worth every single step you make. Every mile you drive on oh those roads, those endless roads.


Sunset in Þórsmörk

The Landscapes of Iceland - Winter Edition (I)

On the one hand, winter obviously changes the look of Iceland. An island of color temporarily hides under a blanket and turns into a monochromatic dream of colors and tones. But on the other, it also changes the country’s acoustic appearance – and therefore creates an opera of light and change.

Iceland in Winter: snow, rough storms and Aurora Borealis

The desaturated country becomes a silent desert of snow and loneliness. The only sound that reaches for your ears is the roaring of the waves – and the scissoring blow of the storm that just appeared out of nowhere. But within a minute, the view and color and light and mood changed instantly. At Dyrhólaey and Reynisfjara, nature reinvented itself about a dozen times. From light to darkness, from eternal warmth to cutting coldness. The elements shapes the landscape and creates stunning vistas. The landscape around Þórsmörk is the perfect example. Volcanic rock and ice create strong contrasts – a bit like you might think about the moon Europa. Especially around Snæfellsnes (Arnastapi & Gatklettur) the effects become omnipresent. You cannot run away from its beauty – not even while trying to hide behind the waterfall Kvernufoss (Seljalandsfoss’ less visited brother). In the end, the Northern Lights will get you anyway. Hopefully.
Thank god you can take a rest and breath from the visual bombardement in the capital Reykjavik – especially at the amazing Hallgrimskirkja or the sculpture Sólfar by Jón Gunnar Árnason. Just for a moment though. You know you want to return. As soon as possible.


Sunset at Kandy Lake, Kandy

The Landscapes of Sri Lanka (II)

Within a mile, the landscapes and views of Sri Lanka change constantly. So does the smell, so does the sound. The waves of mountains, endless oceans and beaches. Buzzing cities of life and chaos.

A new Sri Lanka around every single corner. What’s next?

The sunrise at Ella Rock, the famous mountain around the city of Ella. The strange rock formation at Sigiriya Rock and Pidurangala Rock, located in central Sri Lanka. The roaring city of Kandy, the combination of spiritual life and hard commerce. The silent beaches in the South around Tangalle. The railway system.
Keep on walking, keep on discovering a country of life and beauty – who knows what’s around the next corner. Things might change.


Women working in a tea factory, Nuwara Eliya

The Life of Sri Lanka - exploring and documenting some daily moment

Travelling and exploring Sri Lanka will let you getting to know lovely people who love their country and daily life. They also want you to love their country – and be an active part of their daily life.

The Laugh and Life of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka offers stunning views and amazing landscapes. Also, it offers one of the most warm hearted and generous people I have yet talked to. You really can feel the love for their country, the proud in their life. They often want you to be part of it – interacting, experiencing. Living Sri Lankan life as much as it’s possible for a tourist. In general: Confusing, overwhelming and stunning. Harsh, loud and peaceful. Tons of impressions which might take some time to fully understand. It might surprise how much it really needs to calm down and enjoy life.
Like I said before: Don’t rush and take your time. This life isn’t fast anyway.


Sunset at Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya

The Landscapes of Sri Lanka (I)

The country of Sri Lanka offers a charming combination of a stunning tropical landscape presented by lovely people. A more and more popular destination, but still a silent gem in the south of India.

Sri Lanka. Be ready to be amazed and confused at the same time.

In recent years, Sri Lanka has become more and more popular as a travel destination. After the end of the civil war in 2009, the country can finally be visited without any unnecessary worries. Thankfully, as it offers so much impressions that you’ll easily be overwhelmed. Eight UNESCO World Heritage sites are waiting for you to be discovered, mostly in the cultural north. The ancient city of Anuradhapura. The stunning landscape around Sigiriya Rock and its temple (hint: best viewed from the adjacent Pidurangala Rock). The Old Palace of King Parakramabahu in Polonnaruwa. The impressive Buddha Caves around Dambulla. The list of beautiful cultural heritage is sheer endless.
Continue to visit the colonial history in the South and the Highlands. Visiting British-ish cities like Kandy, Ella, Nuwara Eliya. Discover the buzzing and hectic sound of multi-cultural melting pots. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the different smells and sounds. Endless beaches around the south coast – villages like Tangalle of Weligama Bay.
And finally: Take your time. Use public transport. Don’t rush, life isn’t fast anyway.


Sunrise over Bled, Slovenia

The Landscapes of Slovenia (I) - Bled and the Julian Alps

Recently, the streets led us to Slovenia and the landscape around Bled and the Julian Alps. A country I have never really thought about. How foolish of me.

In the heart of Europe: Start feeling Slovenia.

Indeed you can feel Slovenia. After a couple of days and endless hikes, you finally do understand why the country’s marketing department chose that slogan. Countless ways to discover such a beautiful country. Especially the famous sights around Lake Bled with its church on the island Blejski otok. Every single step offers stunning sceneries. Leave the more crowded area and discover stunning waterfalls in valleys like Vintgar Gorge or Tolmin Gorge. Drive winding roads towards the overwhelming Lake Bohinj. Curse the clouds to allow a peak and the stunningly pittoresque chappel of St.Primoz near Jamník. Explore the mountains around the summit of Mount Triglav in the National Park. Drive Vršič Pass. Fall in love.
Slovenia, I do get it now. I will return.

While we are here: Lago di Fusine.

On your way to Slovenia, be sure to visit the Italian part of the Julian Alps. Some miles before the border, there are two beautiful lakes hiding in front of the majestic mountains of Mt. Mangart. It perfectly prepares yourself about what lies behind the summit. (Or in the Carribean. Depens on where to go.)

To see a more detailed route of the trip around Slovenia, feel free to visit my trips description over at polarsteps.com


Sunrise at Gatklettur near Arnarstapi, Iceland

The peninsula of Snæfellsnes, Iceland

Snæfellsnes – Iceland en Miniature

Snaefellsnes, the peninsula in the western part of Iceland: Some of the island’s most beautiful landmarks create a stunning landscape.
Because of the remote location of Snaefellsnes, travelling on road 54 and 574 is the best way to get around. The Snæfellsjökull, a volcano whose summit is covered by a huge glacier, dominates the entire peninsula. Due to its almost mystic aura, this place is well known: According to Jules Verne, descending into the jökull of Snaefell marks the beginning of the Journey of the Center of the Earth.

 

Búðir, Arnarstapi and Gatklettur

We do breath some fresh air at the tiny village of Búðir with its few houses and one of the oldest (wooden) churches of Iceland: Búðakirkja.
In Arnarstapi, Jules Vernes last stop before the caves of Snaefellsjökull, the ocean created stunning views at the cliff of Gatklettur and its stone archs. Again, the sunrise paints a wonderful pink into the sky. But you probably want to continue: A couple of miles ahead, the basalt rock pinnacles of Lóndranger arise.

 

Be aware though: During all the hiking around the area of Snaefell, one should keep an eye on attacking birds – in the Alfred Hitchcock way. You constantly seem to come way to close to their breeding grounds. Better don’t be surprised if you see people carrying posts above their head. Or even tripods. It really helps.

Kirkjufell – how mother nature shows off at Snæfellsnes

Our tour continues to the famous mountain Kirkjufell and its attendant waterfalls: Kirkjufellfoss. It somehow feels like it is nature’s way to show mankind how to pause for a moment and simply accept its sheer beauty. The mountain constantly changes its significant shape. The light of those ridiculous short nights during the summer of July offers hours of magical moments.

 

For a moment, we need to rest here.